The Foo Fighters returned to Melbourne this weekend to christen the whizz bang AAMI Park as a rock’n’roll venue and what a baptism it was. Incredibly, I was unaware that there was no roof, and even more incredibly, after a week of outrageous weather, the Melbourne sky behaved. It was perfect.
The sun was shining as DZ Deathrays got their, literal, fifteen minutes of fame. The duo, who seem naturally designed for dark, grungy, bars, did incredibly well to create a stadium presence and with any luck picked up a few new fans from those in the front floor who had rushed in at 4.30pm to secure their vantage of His Grohlness. (Spotted: one manly looking fellow in a “I’d Go Gay For Grohl” t-shirt.)
What a curiously well-dressed and staid-looking band Fucked Up are in comparison to crazy-Uncle/Fratboy frontman Damien Abraham. They only managed to get to “The Other Shoe” before the latter launched off the stage into a jubilant crowd, barreling through the audience (and out to the barriers, and along the photographer pit) smashing plastic beer cups on his forehead, posing for photos and continually singing while his super-tight band keep their cool in the background.
Tenacious D (Kyle remains the same, Jack Black has never looked so middle-aged) elevated the humour and eccentricity brought in by Fucked Up, with their onstage dramatics and well-oiled schtick: “We bring the lightning and Foos bring the thunder.” Unintentional laughs as a punter leapt onto stage to replace a freshly retrenched Kyle prompting White to widen his eyes and weave the line, “Holy fuck, what’s happening?” into his lyrics. Naturally, “Tribute” received the standout reception from the audience: surely I wasn’t the only one hoping Dave Grohl might reprise his cameo as Satan somehow.
Before anyone had time to wonder when the beloved Foos were going to get started the opening riff for “All My Life” kicked off, as four guitarists ran onto stage and a nimble Taylor Hawkins leapt to his drum riser. It was an explosive start; the first time Grohl’s image was cast onto the huge screens the crowd’s roar was apocalyptic. It marked the commencement of more than two hours of the most hard rocking fun you can have at a concert: Foo Fighters just deliver and deliver and deliver.
“Rope” had Grohl on the catwalk – a solitary tool for him to get closer to the adoring mass – and it’s safe to say we were all his bitches. If he pointed the guitar stock this way one side of the stadium screamed like pre-feminism girls at a Beatles concert, when he swung it back the other way, the opposite side of the crowd outdid the first.
They smashed through “My Hero” and “Learning To Fly” with a roaring crowd in chorus and no one was immune from the revelry: everyone was on their feet, beers were raised, singalongs at full tilt and we were barely twenty minutes in. It was going to be an awesome night.
We endeavoured to sing Nate “Happy Birthday”. It was a rubbish attempt but he accepted our dismal efforts graciously before “Stacked Actors” got us all back in song. Playing up his role as ruler, Dave raced to the end of his catwalk to engage Chris in a long distance guitar-off complete with comedic sex-face moves. Just as we thought Chris might get it in the bag with an impressive guitar swing around his neck, Grohl’s place on the end of the catwalk elevated into a staircase, the fans pronounced him winner; he perched on top, grinning and triumphant.
Taylor’s brilliant solo in “Monkey Wrench” peeled the drummer off some Grohl love from the crowd and after set closer “Best Of You” he joined the boss in their oft-repeated larrikin encore argument backstage; no matter how many times you see it, you still play along like toddlers exhausted from laughter.
A generous five-song encore was voted on: “Wheels” was the kick off with Dave resuming his position at the top of his elevated staircase, three quarters of the way toward the back of the stadium. It was, he said, in dedication to those in the cheap seats. Ryan, an excitable punter who had been sitting with the plebs too long made his escape, pursued by security, only to be invited onto the staircase for a little meet and greet with Dave. “Now, get the fuck off my stage,” grinned Grohl as Ryan (forever in possession of a story for the grandkids) made his descent.
“Times Like These”, “Generator”, and a bangin’ cover of Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down” preceded the last song of the night, Foos classic, “Everlong.” I wouldn’t say Foo Fighters were my favourite band, even though I love them. I don’t know even know if I own any of their records anymore but they are, without question, one of the best live guitar bands on the planet. An incredible night.
– Melanie Lewis